Scoring has been a concern for the Bangladesh national football team over the last few years and new coach Jamie Day seems to be banking on experienced striker Shakhawat Hossain Rony to solve the crisis ahead of the SAFF Championship.
The 27-year-old striker has been out of the national team for nearly two-and-a-half years since Bangladesh's frustrating defeat against Bhutan in Asian Cup Qualifying playoffs in October, 2016.
The Chittagong Abahani striker was not considered by former coach Andrew Ord for the international friendly against Laos on March 27 due to his poor performance in the domestic circuit before Day called up Rony last month for the Qatar training. The lad from Chittagong paid back new coach's faith by scoring the equaliser against Al Mesaimeer SC in a practice match on Wednesday.
“One day after Eid-ul-fitr, the coach [Jamie Day] phoned me to enquire about a few things such as fitness, confidence and my previous scoring record,” Rony told The Daily Star over phone yesterday. “Then the coach told me that he was interested in me and a couple of hours later, I was asked by the football federation to join the national camp.”
Rony believes his recent performance for Dhaka Ekadosh in four friendly matches in England where he scored four goals gave him a chance to stage a comeback.
“During our tour to England, Day perhaps sent a representative to watch me in a match where I helped Dhaka Ekadosh win by scoring. Later, teammates like Mamunul Islam also probably told the coach about me and I have been given the opportunity.”
Rony had his international debut against Philippines during the now-defunct AFC Challenge Cup in 2011 and he played for the national team till 2016 except for in 2013 and 2014. During this period, Rony scored nine goals for the national team including a brace each against Bhutan during the 2015 SAFF Championship and against Sri Lanka during 2016 Bangabandhu Gold Cup.
“Due to foreign strikers like Emeka Darlington, Wedson Anselme and Sony Norde, I was hardly given any chance in the starting eleven of Sheikh Jamal DC, so I warmed the bench and was not considered for the national team in 2013-14, but I played both legs against Bhutan during the Asian Cup qualifying playoffs,” said Rony.
“I know I have weakness in finishing but the way Day has been working with the forwards will help us a lot to overcome finishing problem. There is still more than a month left before the start of the SAFF Championship and I will give my best to secure a place in the squad to help the national team produce good results on home ground,” said a confident Rony.
The Bangladesh team, which returned from a two-week camp in Qatar yesterday, are expected to resume camp on Tuesday afternoon.